A Model for Managing Rough Sleeping in Public Spaces

The 2018 Liveable Cities Conference is being held this month over 16 – 17 July at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park.

Now in its 11th year, this Conference will continue to explore the liveability of our metropolitan and regional urban centres.

Ms Leanne Martin, Community Safety Co-ordinator at the Northern Beaches Council joins us at the conference to discuss ‘A Model for Managing Rough Sleeping in Public Spaces’.

Abstract

As our population grows and housing affordability decreases, primary homelessness – when someone feels that they have no other option than to sleep in a public space – will continue to rise. Whilst housing and homelessness is primarily the responsibility of State Government, the management of public space is the role of local councils. This intersection of responsibility is a challenging one for local government, who invariably do not have the experience or budgets to case manage homeless people, whilst also having to respond to business and community complaints about this complex issue.

Up until recently, Council’s standard response was often to call in the garbage truck and dispose of all the homeless person’s possessions if they were deemed to be a “public nuisance”. To ensure a consistent and humanitarian approach is given on this complex issue, Northern Beaches Council has developed a Homelessness Protocol. It relies on an active, collaborative approach with various key service providers alongside a clear consideration of the relevant legal aspects for Council. The Protocol is a guide for frontline staff for when they encounter rough sleepers so that they are able to maintain a consistent and compassionate response whilst also ensuring public spaces remain accessible and safe for all.

For an internationally renowned tourist destination like Manly, addressing this issue has significant economic impacts alongside the social. Managing rough sleeping is an evolving issue requiring a dynamic and multi-faceted response in which local councils are central in providing a consistent and effective response. This presentation will demonstrate the usefulness of the protocol and will include a variety of scenarios that we have tackled to ensure a balance is struck that maintains concern and compassion to rough sleepers whilst delivering clean, safe public spaces for all.

Biography

For the past decade Leanne has worked in local government community services and place management roles in both Sydney and Melbourne. Prior to this she was a NSW Police Officer for 17 years in both operational and non-operational roles. She currently works as the Community Safety Co-ordinator at Northern Beaches Council. Until recently she was also the Chair of the Safety and Security sub- committee for the Joint Advisory committee to the Government of Nauru and Government of Australia.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Liveable Cities Conference in Melbourne and to secure your spot please visit liveablecities.org.au